The Central Madrasa Board: Information and facts

Khushtar Noorani

The duplicity and double standard of our community leaders is beyond our understanding. They always cry against government’s injustice and unfair behavior towards the Muslim community. They blame government for their unwillingness and insincerity to do something for the economically, educationally and politically backward Muslim community. And ironically when the government wants to do something for their educational progress and social welfare and prosperity they declare that an attack on Islamic identity of the community. In this situation why government should do something for the Muslim community. In the past we have seen numerous projects for the developments of the Muslims did not work because of the blind opposition of the Ulama. And same thing is happening in the case of proposed Central Madrasa Board. If the adequate steps would not be taken on appropriate time, the proposed Central Madrasa Board would become a history. Perhaps the intention of the central government in this regard is not good. Government wants that the proposal of C M B, which was the result of the efforts of a former Muslim minister to be prey to those hues and cries. We have examples of C B S E and U G C in various Indian states, why Central Madrasa Board could not be set up on the same pattern? There is no need of so much debates and discussions on the issue. It was the former H R D minister Mr. Arjun Singh who with a well- worked plan made it a hot potato. He convened a general meeting and handed it over to a commission. Subsequently, happened what was being afraid, a group of political Mulvis made it an issue and entire community fell prey to an entirely unnecessary debate.

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History of Madrasa Board

In India the history of government aided madrasas go many centuries back. It starts from the very beginning of the Muslim history in the sub-continent. Madrasas got government’s finical assistance in every period of the history. Even the British government to please its Muslim subject established Madrasa and helped them finically. The existing system of Madrasaa in India saw its revival in the English period. This topic, indeed, is a very interesting and thorough. Why the British Rulers set up Madrasas? What was the intention behind that? What was the system and curriculum and why and when they felt need for a system of curriculum and certification. Who played a vital role from Ulama and educationists in the shaping of the system? On this point  this is  enough to know that the foundation of Madrasa Alia in Calcutta in 1781, and Madrasa Ghaziuddin Hayder in Delhi in 1792 (known as Delhi college) was the inception of a new educational revolution in the history of Indian sub continent and the beginning of a consistent, comprehensive and rules and regulation based system. And right after that Ajmer college, Bareilly college, Jonpur college came into existence. Before that a personal education system was there in which Ulama teach students certain disciplines of education in his class generally set in mosques. That was a very difficult system, if you taking something from the scholars of Jounpur or Bareilly you would have to travel for other discipline to Hyderad. Almost one century back, in the result of a comprehensive system of curriculum, certification and standardization, a very strong movement started, yet it was too late. Even the Darse Nizami on which we are so proud is a result of a government which was made for the standardization of Madrasas. Darul Uloom Deoband (1868) Madrastul Uloom Aligarh (1875) Jamia Nizamia Hayderabad (1876 ) Madrasa Islamia Shamsul Huda Patna (1880 ) Darul Uloom Hamidia Darbhanga(1885 ) and hundreds of other Madrasas in Muraba, Bareilly, Kanpur and of the remote villages of towns are the remembrance of the first stone which was laid down in form of Madrasa Alia in Calcutta and Madrasa Ghaziuddin Hayder in Delhi. People who consider Darul Uloom deoband and Madrastul Uloom Aligarh the begging of Madrasa movement in Indian subcontinent, forget the fact that all the founders of these institutions were the students Delhi college. Needless to say anything about Sir Syed and his colleges. Amongst of the founders of Darul Uloom Deoband from Haji Abid to Maulana Zulfiqar Ali all were the students of the Delhi college. All got their education under the guardianship of Maulana Mamlook Ali Nanootwi, who was the teacher of Delhi college. The first principal of Darul Uloom Deoband was his son. And his was the person who brought Maulana Qasim from Nanoota to Delhi. The mentor and teacher of Maulanma Zulfiqar Ali, father of Shaikhul Hind Maulana Mahmoodul Hasan, was also Maulana Mamlook Ali. Maulana Zulfiqar Ali too served as a teacher in Bareilly and Ajmer College. Maulana Yaqoob also was a teacher in Ajmer College. Maulana Fazlurrahman Usmani himself got his education from Maulana Mamlook Ali in Delhi College. He was the deputy inspector of education department in the British government for a period. Principal of Madrasa Alia Silhat, Madrasa Azizia Bihar Shareef and madrasa Shamsulhuda Patna was the member of Darululoom Majleseshora for 56 years, despite the fact that all these institutions were government affiliated. He was in Darul Ulooms Majlese Shora when Bihar Madrasa examination board was being formed and he was the principal of Madrasa Shamsulhuda.

The history of a system which conducts examination and issues certificates is one century old in India. And it would not be wrong to say that the proposed Central Madrasa Board has a background of Madrasa Boards in several Indian states. In these states thousands of Madrasa are affiliated with the Boards and a number of them are government aided. The issue of the affiliation of Madrasas always was a bone of contention in the community. Many accepted it, while many refused. This time, however, the mode of opposition is so severe from some Muslim groups, which we never saw in the past. Of course, this is politically motivated and because of vested interested of some section of ulema. They have ignored the devastating price, which our community is going to pay. (Ahmad Javed, Jame Noor, January 2010, P. 28)

The formation of Madrasa Board and its benefits for the Muslim community

The study of the ground realities and the legal documents of CMB revels clearly that the board is in the interest of the Muslim community on the following grounds.

An education system needs a core- institution which can coordinate the different institutions efficiently and monitor their quality of education, conduct examinations and issues certificates. We have madrasa boards in eight states which certificates is recognized within the states, only the Bihar Madrasa  Education Board has got recognition last days from CBSE. In case of the formation of CMB thousands of madrasa students will find the solution of their problem. It will help all madrasas to set an equal standard and it also will pave the path for those madrasas which are running without a Board in the different parts of the country. For example, Madrasas in Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, and Utrakhand and in the Centre’s controlled territories and those states in which there is no Madrasa Board and there is no hope to be in future.

1-       We have in India hundreds of thousands of Madrasas, which face a lot of difficulties in getting registration and finical assistance. If board comes into existence both of the problems would be solved.

2-       From our Madrasa a considerable number of genius students comes out, but they could not find the way for higher education and prestigious jobs, the government don,t recognize their Madrasa certificates, because in Madrasas there is no recognized and impartial system. Madrasa  graduates, in spite of their best talents considered non-qualified. If the Board is set up hundreds of such students will find the way for progress and prosperity.

3-       Today, education has become totally job-oriented. And in the age of materialism there is no possibility to free the society from the material concern. Our madrasa graduates are forced to work against the salary which doesn’t meet the very basic needs of the life. This will extremely minimize the inclination of the students towards religious education. If our madrasa students get assurance of a better fincial future and their certificates would be approved nationally, because of Madrasa Board there will be no obstacle in gaining the Madrasa education.

4-       Ninety percent of Indian Madrasas are being nun on the donation of the Muslim community. With government fincial assistance they may work in a better way. Hundreds of madrasa in the poor backward Muslim areas are in  very bad condition, where students don’t get even two time meal. Expectation to establish a model system from these Madras is a mere dream. With the formation of Madrasa Board these Madrasas may make for them a better infrastructure and provide a quality education.

5-       In India, hundreds of Madrasas are being run as a personal property by their incompetent principals and illiterate manager. The partiality and nepotism is prevalent in very things there. There are no transparent system of auditing and regulating the public funds. Of course, the formation of the Board, will help to check such irregularities and establish the general standardization.

6-       The right to free and compulsory education act has come into effect to all children in the age group of six to fourteen years. No school can hold students without meeting the stipulated standard of education. Even private schools have been warned that they must fulfill rules and regulations or be ready to face the consequences. To escape from this act Madrasa should be registered in accordance with the government’s rules and regulations. The affiliation with such a Central Madrasa Board is the best way to avoid this problem.

7-       Madrasas in the country are being run in conventional form without any registration and are open to come under any government action. This Central Madrasa Board will give them a legal position. Therefore it is essential also for opponents of CMB that they bring their Madrarasa in the fold of rules and regulation.

There are a number of benefits of CMB, besides these if one can think for the welfare of the community, cutting across the sects and groups.


The Baseless Opposition of CMB

Those who have reservation about the formation of the CMB should think on the fact that in a number of states, madrasa boards already exist for years. The madrasas affiliated to them, never pointed out even a semblance of action aims at interfering in their internal affairs on the part of their respective boards. And what they mean by the Islamic identity? One surprises to see their arguments, based on possibilities, conjectures and apprehensions. On the contrary, those who are supporting this move and has solidarity to the CMB their arguments are based on the ground realities and concrete basis.

Before any discussion on the topic, certain points must be borne in mind. The Central Madrasa Board would be constituted on the lines of CBSE or ICSE. It will set up through an act of Parliament and the affiliation to the board will voluntary and that the board will be free from all hues of the state control. Further, the proposed board also will pave the way for the uniformity of the madrasa curriculum, making it easy for the government universities to recognize the degree of the madrasas. Moreover, it will reduce the dominance of affluent people in the madrasa administration. In some cases, despite madrasa being funded through public donations hereditary happens to form the basis to inherit their administrative control. The establishment of the board will definitely be problematic to this breed of the madrasa managers. Another argument of those who are against the board is that the quality of the education in the state board-affiliated madrasas is disturbingly appalling and, therefore, their graduates command less respect and reverence in the society. It goes without saying that the teaching staff, not the government, should to be blamed for this. One can see a number of board affiliated schools meet the quality of education and of course there are some even CBSE affiliated schools with a very poor record.

This question is still and will remain without an answer from those who are opposing the board, that why they don’t start a movement to close hundreds of those madrasas which are being run under the state boards for decades? Statistically, the number of board affiliated madrasas in West Bengal in 2007 was 110950, with 93 alia level( 19450 students  ), 174 fauqania level (56500 students), 140 wastania level (32500 students) and 13 tahtania level(2500 students). In Bihar this number is 3555 and the number of aided teachers is1118. In Uttar Pradesh the number of Islamic madrasas is said to be 1025 in which 375 are affiliated from state madrasa board. In Assam this number is 800. In Kerala, Muslims have ten thousand madrasa under the All Kerala Islamic Deni Madrasis Board, which was established by Muslaim community. This board is free from all kind of state interference and, yet its certificates are recognized in the government institutions. The board itself, organizes fifth, seventh and tenth grade examination centers and issues certificates. One can easily understand how many students are learning in these madrasas.

Why the staunch opponents of the proposed Central Madrasa Board don’t appeal to end their madras’s affiliation from the state boards? If this CMB is antithesis to the soul of the madras, why states boards are not? And what these boards have done to annihilate the Islamic identity of the community? Clearly, a silent majority of the Muslim community are skeptical about the intention of the opposing group. This section of ulama have monopoly on madrasa system, many madrasas have become their family business. A substantial section, but by no means all, of the ulama have made a business out of donation for their madrasas. Teachers labor under the arbitrariness and whims of the managers of madrasas. They pay their staff and teachers pitiable salaries, awhile many of them travel in cars, live in fancy flats and send their children to modern schools. All time they play in petro dolors.

An event worthy to ponder over it

The opposing section of the board always presents the pitiable conditions of madrasas, affiliated to Bihar madrasa educations board. Certainly, there are both negative as well as positive aspects of the affiliation with a board, some benefits as well as some drawbacks. But it goes without saying that the teaching staff, not the government and board, should be blamed for this.

There is a backward village comprising one hundred poor Muslim farmers, in Madhubani district of Bihar. The idea to found a madrasa in the village came in the mind of a farmer. He is not an educated person. His two sons were the students of a college. He brought a Mulvi sahib and started a madrasa in the shadow of a hut. After some time he presented all necessary documents in Bihar Madrasa Board and succeeded to be registered. He became the secretary and his three sons, one daughter and two daughters in law started to teach the children. To found a madrasa in a village where all inhabitants are laborer except one house is almost miracle. This became possible only because of madrasa board. This madrasa changed the destiny of the village. Of course this madrasa is a private industry of particular family, but one can not ignore the fact that because of this, sixteen children including six girl students participated in high school examination of the School Examination Board in 2007-08, let alone participants of Madrasa Education Baord. You can see the services of an ill-equipped madrasa affiliated to madrasa board in a poor village. No need to say, what would be the result of this madrasa if it was being regulated properly, not like a family business.

Is it not beyond reason and rationale that teachers with a miserable lifestyle, pitiable salary and without the fulfillment of the basic necessities of life would work enthusiastically for the quality education. And a lucrative salary package, better standard of life would prevent them from better performance. Yes, it is right that the corruption, nepotism, and partiality is prevalent in some madrasas and the state of education is disturbingly appalling, but the managers of these madrasas are responsible for that not boards. ( Ahmad Javed, Jame Noor, Delhi, January 2010 : 31 )

The anti section of the CMB also argues that the madrasa as an institution has always been an eye-sore for the Sangh Parivar. They see it as the defense line for Muslim identity and obstacle to eventual assimilation of Muslims in the Hindu fold. The proposal of CMB came from the NDA government, the intention to control or destroy the madrasa system , the same government which declared madrasas the cradle for terrorists and shelter for militants. Furthermore, they saw in this move the secret hands of Western powers to curb and control the influence of madrasa in the Muslim society. There is no need to refute these arguments; they are baseless and mere rhetoric. I think, opposition for the sake of opposition is always useless and harmful. This proposal was not from the BJP led NDA government, it was the former state HRD minister Ali Ashraf Fatmi in the UPA who struggled for this. He wanted to improve the madrasa system and make them finically strong. But, unfortunately the community’s response was very disappointing for him.

Some questions to the opponents of CMB

1-      There are madrasa boards in twelve states of the country, including Bihar, Rajasthan,UP, Assam, Madhe Pradesh and west Bengal. These boards never opposed. further they established on the demand of the Muslim community. Then, why the opposition of Central Madrasa Board.

2-       The history of madrasa board in India is more than one century old. During this period Ulama never opposed it so vehemently. Is there any hidden agenda to satisfy the political aspirations? Is it not true that some of them are very shrewd players of this game?

3-       Our great Ulama have been participating in the examination of munshi, fazil, kamil of Allahbad and Punjab university and Punjab university and they were always prud of it. What happened today that the same system has became for the quality education?

4-       In UP and Bihar madrasa boards are working for last one hundred years, and this did not affect the quality of Nadwatul Ulama and other big institutions. Then, why this is going to happen with CMB?

5-       There are 1118 government aided madreasas in Bihar, 375 in UP, 421 in West Bengal and 75 in Assam. Is it was possible to exist for these madrasas with the state fincial assistance?

6-       In UP before three years Mulayan Singh government gave the recognition to 120 madrsas on the persistent demand of the community, and it was the antithesis of the soul of Islam. Why only the CMB is  antithesis of the soul of Islam?

7-       If there are madrasa boards in Bihar, UP and Assam, why not the same for the Muslims of other states?

8-       We don’t know the existence of madrasas with the high quality education in Punjab, Haryana and Delhi. The establishment of the CMB would be harmful for which madrsas?

9-       Do the UGC and CBSE interfere in the internal affairs of the school managements? Why CMB will do? Is the document of the proposed CMB has any code which enable it to interfere the internal affairs of the madrasas?

10-   Which code of the proposed CMB is objectionable and against the pure soul of Islam?

11-   Ironically, state assistance in this democratic country affects the soul of Islam, but when our Ulamas take oath for the constitution of India in the Parliament and live a privileged life with the big state  privileges, their soul of Islam would intact.

12-   We always strive and struggle for our schools to be affiliated with CBSE and other state boards and face numerous problems in this procedure. So, why this reservation regarding madrasa board? We know that CBSE never interfere in the internal affairs of an institution, even in curriculum,  selection of teachers and teaching of basic theology. So, why CMB will do that?

13-   Is it not true that every educational institution has its own quality and standard. This has nothing to do with the affiliation to any particular board. We have some CBSE affiliated institutions with a very poor educational record.

14-   This is not a secret that the proposed madrasa board was a result of the non congress minister in the UPA government. The former union HRD minister Arjun Singh with a well worked plan tried to put it into a cold bag. He convened a conference to discuss the issue and then handed it over a committee. He was the man who gave the responsibility to oppose the CMB to a famous Alim and caused the benefits of cores of rupees against this service, still he doing his work faithfully. He suffers the selfdeceit to the extent that raises the slogan of Arjun Singh day and night.

15-   The name of the report of Madrasa Modernization Committee repeatedly comes. There are some recommendations to grant madrasas some temporary schemes and fincial assistance, and to allocate the funds of madrasa board to the National Institute of Open School. Is it not true that the such schemes is nothing but a big field to misuse the public fund. Last sixty years has proved it. Is there any doubt that these recommendations were made by the former HRD minister Arjun Singh?

The formation of the All India Madrasa Coordination Committee

On November 7 the second conference of ‘’thought and action’’ were held at urse qasmi marhara under the presidency of Prof Syed Mohammad Amin Miyan , sajada nashin of khanqah Barkatia and the head of the Urdu department of Aligarh Muslim Univesity. In which one hundred and fifty ulama, the great shaikhs, prominent writers and intellectuals participated. This conference discussed the topic of “ the concept of education in the Muslim society: difficulties, solutions and possibilities ,, and decided to form the All India Madrasa Coordination Committee to address the social problems of the community in particular and the issue of CMB in particular.

It was decided in that meeting that group of scholars will assess the proposed CMB documents and point out the objectionable parts and recommend the possible modification to the HRD minister Kpil Sibbal and announce its support to the                                 CMB with these modifications.

The first meeting of All India Madrasa Coordination Committee was held on 18 November 2010 at Al  Brakat Educational Institute under the chairmanship of Prof Syed Mohammad Amin Mian. This meeting demanded the modifications in the eight following points unanimously.

1-      The CMB bill 2009 should aim at ‘’the standardization of madrasa education,, in spite of ‘’ the standardization of non religious education,,.

2-      Its name should be ‘the Central Madrasa Education Board,, in place of Central Madrasa Board.

3-      The ending of the affiliation from madrasa board must be permitted.

4-      The chairman and registrar must be a Muslim.

5-      Every affiliated madrasa from madrasa board should be granted monetary assistance.

6-      The degree of the teachers who participates in the training course of the central madrasa board should be treated as B.ed in the Arabic, Persian and theology.

7-       To implement the acts from the L to Q in section four in CMB bill 2009 the consent of the third fourth members should be obligatory.

8-      The grade of the CMB affiliated madras teachers should be like the teachers of the Arabic and Persian board UP.

On December 3 2009 a delegation in the leadership of Prof Syed Mohammad Mian meat to the union HRD minister Kapil Sibbal with these recommendations and demanded the establishment of the board accordingly.

Now is the time to arouse the voice and work collectively for the formation of the board and make madrasas strong cutting across the schools of thought. 

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